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Maplewood Sweet Tooth Tour

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Maplewood, Missouri is a neighborhood of St. Louis that is super quaint with some awesome history behind it. Founded in 1908, placards around town point to the history of each building including the oldest bowling lanes west of the Mississippi. Even though they have old bones, the blood running through the veins of Maplewood is hip, artesianal and uniquely fun.

Your sweet ticket to deliciousness.

Your sweet ticket to deliciousness.

The Maplewood Sweet Tooth Tour consisted of a self guided tour around nine of their local shops on a 1/4 mile walk. It included Kakao Chocolate, Foundation Grounds, Vom Fass, La Cosecha Coffee Roasters, Great Harvest Bread Company, Traveling Tea, Strange Donuts, Pie Oh My! and Encore Baking Company. Each represented such a different facet of what it means to be sweet. The shops boasted their use of local ingredients and partnering with local companies found right there in Maplewood, which went a long way to speak of their community and what can be found here. Almost all the shop owners or managers were there, and despite the huge crowds, everyone was friendly and took time for meet and greets. Despite the sweetness of hospitality and goodies, my blood sugar didn’t calm down for days. What sucks is that I’m still jonesing for much of what these guys were offering. Hopefully this wasn’t the start of my longterm diabetic downturn.

Kakao Chocolate became a much smaller venue with the crowds, but everyone was courteous even with their one track minds on checking in and getting the tour under way.

Kakao Chocolate became a much smaller venue with the crowds, but everyone was courteous even with their one track minds on checking in and getting the tour under way.

First up was Kakao Chocolate run by Brian Pelletier. The shop was very open and chic boutique with plenty to look at and enjoy. The store boasted confections made right in house by their staff with tables and cases to ogle and ahh. While they specialize in chocolate, they do make some delicious marshmallows and fruit pates showing they are more than just chocolate. I was even surprised to find a great number of other high end delicacies made by other manufacturers including bars, novelties and candies in their shop. During the tour, they served up Irish Rocky which was a combination of Schlafly Coffee Stout chocolate cake, vanilla bean marshmallow and vanilla bean caramel with thin layers of chocolate and pecans. It was a delicious, delicious mouthful. 

Brian Pelletier, owner and shop creator at Kakao  Chocolate, all smiles and ready to serve up some good stuff.

Brian Pelletier, owner and shop creator at Kakao Chocolate, all smiles and ready to serve up some good stuff.

Wonka would be proud with the up close and personal attention to confections.

Wonka would be proud with the up close and personal attention to confections.

Kakao Chocolate's Irish Rocky, a combination of Schlafly Coffee Stout chocolate cake, vanilla bean marshmallow and vanilla bean caramel with a thin layer of chocolate and pecans.

Kakao Chocolate’s Irish Rocky, a combination of Schlafly Coffee Stout chocolate cake, vanilla bean marshmallow and vanilla bean caramel with a thin layer of chocolate and pecans.

Foundation Grounds stop off for coffee, grub and Goo Balls.

Foundation Grounds, a stop off for coffee, grub and Goo Balls.

Next up was Foundation Grounds, a great java hangout that features local items on their well pulled together menu striving to be as eco-friendly as possible. The staff was super friendly, quick to get orders going, and boasted a great cup-o-joe. The item they served up for the tour was called Goo Balls, a no bake cookie that included chocolate, oats, coconut and a few other ingredients. Surprisingly with very little sugar, these balls were addictive. So addictive, I keep trying to recreate them at home.

A no-bake cookie from Foundation Grounds packing tons of flavor with very little sugar. Goo Balls, a party for your mouth.

A no-bake cookie from Foundation Grounds packing tons of flavor with very little sugar. Goo Balls, a party for your mouth.

Sampling bottles of spirits from Vom Fass with collectible bottles to take home.

Sampling bottles of spirits from Vom Fass with collectible bottles to take home.

Vom Fass looks like many of the olive oil stores that have cropped up recently, but I can certainly tell you and urge you to not pass it by like I did on my first visit to Maplewood. While they do have samplings of olive oil and vinegars utilizing a wide range of flavors, they also have spirits. Lots and lots of alcoholic spirits. While I don’t drink, I was fascinated to see such a wide range of combinations, and their own unique take on everyday drinkable like vodka. Their staff was beyond helpful and attentive, and I had a great time chit chatting between our sampling which consisted of Love Potion and some insanely delicious lemon olive oil sugar cookies. I sourced many a unique items to use in my cooking during my visit, and was so happy to see a place where I could buy as much as I needed including Kirsch, a cherry liquor that I needed for a Black Forest cake. Vom Fass allowed me the opportunity to buy a cute little 8 ounce bottle that I can later repurpose. And if all that doesn’t entice you, they do pairings and various other classes and workshops.

Every Vom Fass bottle is different not only with contents, shape and size of bottle, but with the personalization of the writing, and maybe a bit of ribbon if you're lucky.

Every Vom Fass bottle is different not only with contents, shape and size of bottle, but with the personalization of the writing, and maybe a bit of ribbon if you’re lucky.

Even the vinegars have a unique display and housing area which immediately draw you in.

Even the vinegars have a unique display and housing area which immediately draw you in.

Lemon olive sugar cookies can be super delicious (as pictured here) complimenting the other ingredients perfectly.

Lemon olive sugar cookies can be super delicious (as pictured here) complimenting other sweet ingredients perfectly.

maplewoodLa Cosecha Coffee Roasters and Great Harvest Bread Company were in the same tucked away locale. The front was setup to get you your caffeine fix, let you sample local candy creator, Calley’s, and then get you excited about what was hidden in the back- glorious, wonderful bread. La Cosecha keeps it simple and gives you an amazing cup of coffee with no frills to keep their focus on what they do best. They’re in store roaster is why you’ll get such a unique and delicious cup, and why very little places can compare. Their samples included an affogato (espresso with gelato) which featured local vanilla ice cream from Serendipity’s, and a brownie truffle from Calley’s to top it off. As you made your way to the back, you got to choose a sample of the breads available on that day from Great Harvest Bread Company. They are family owned, boasting local ingredients and using wheat they freshly grind everyday. The bread was delicious and smelled so heavenly, luckily we got to take away cookies or a cinnamon roll for later consumption.

No frills, but seamlessly and simply pulled together, La Cosecha Coffee Roasters does it, and does it well.

No frills, but seamlessly and simply pulled together, La Cosecha Coffee Roasters does it, and does it well.

Affogato (espresso with gelato) is served up local vanilla ice cream from Serendipity's and a perfectly balanced shot of espresso.

Affogato (espresso with gelato) is served up local vanilla ice cream from Serendipity’s and a perfectly balanced shot of espresso.

Brownie truffle from Calley's.

Brownie truffle from Calley’s.

Local love happening at La Cosecha Coffee Roasters. Small businesses have to stick together!

Local love happening at La Cosecha Coffee Roasters. Small businesses have to stick together!

The seductive smell of fresh baked loaves from Great Harvest Bread Company entice you to the back and don't relent till you've had a taste.

The seductive smell of fresh baked loaves from Great Harvest Bread Company entice you to the back and don’t relent till you’ve had a taste.

Even more delicious loaves to entice and ensnare you.

Even more delicious loaves to entice and ensnare you.

Traveling Tea was our next stop. They served up some chai tea which was very good, and gave out a sampling of candied blueberry tea. The candied tea was a nice concept, sadly a poor execution. Their highlight though, was putting together loose leaf tea combinations themselves, so you can take home blends for a fraction of a cost and buy just as much as you need. 

A freshly brewed cup of Chai and candied blueberry tea are just a sampling of what Traveling Tea was offering.

A freshly brewed cup of Chai and candied blueberry tea are just a sampling of what Traveling Tea has to offer.

maplewoodStrange Donuts was a strange and wonderful lot. The guys behind the counter had a great sense of humor and were insanely personable. Every ticket handed in to mark off your visit was autographed by them, or given written instructions. Mine was to “follow me on twitter.” By the time much of the tour goers had passed through, the rest of their shop was closed down for the day, selling out by noon. Luckily they had our samples ready for us and armed, so that no one could deprive us. Later that evening I told my sugar induced body no more, then said, “ok, maybe one bite.” I scarfed the whole donut down. When I went to bed, my husband asked why I looked so guilty. My only reply was that, “I ate the whole thing, and saved not even the bag to sniff.”

Delicious, and probably not nutritious, these finger licking good yummies are meant to be eaten, enjoyed and maybe even shared if you're lucky.

Delicious, and probably not nutritious, these finger licking good yummies are meant to be eaten, enjoyed and maybe even shared if you’re lucky.

"Cut my pie into four pieces, I don't think I could eat eight." - Yogi Berra

“Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.” – Yogi Berra

Next on the long list of tour stops was Pie Oh My! A super sweet bunch of ladies boasting some overly delicious pies and really cool combinations. Their samples were an oatmeal chocolate or chocolate Bailey’s cream pie. I was able to try both and was wowed by the oatmeal chocolate. Such a unique and delicious combination for a pie. The staff was what one would expect of being in grandmother’s kitchen, attentive to your needs, making sure you had enough to eat, and above all were happy. Yes ladies, I can honestly say that you did indeed make me happy.

Apple caramel pie is truly - Oh My! delectable.

Apple caramel pie is truly – Oh My! delectable.

Wedding cake from Encore Baking is truly straight out of a fairy daily, yet completely edible!

Wedding cake from Encore Baking is straight out of a fairy daily, yet completely edible in this day and age!

Our last tour stop was Encore Baking Company. Thankfully shop owner and baker, Francie Valenta opened up her store with open arms. A typical window shopper may not give the shop a second glance as their focus is on beautifully elegant creations. Seeing some of their wedding cakes up front and personal humbles a person very quickly as you realize everything is created by hand and completely edible. Francie was so nice, and confirmed my suspicions that the delivery of cakes is the most nerve racking part of the process. Her cupcakes looked good, but tasted even better, embodying what every cake should be. A showcase of flavors, not too overly sweet and perfectly balanced. I’m sure it helped having my favorite flavor combination of almond and raspberries together didn’t hurt either. While they don’t have cupcakes regularly, it is worth thinking about using her for any upcoming occasions one might have.

Beauty, poise and delicious buttercream is waiting for your next occasion.

Beauty, poise and delicious buttercream is waiting for your next occasion.

An unassuming raspberry almond cupcake so perfectly balanced in flavor, light on texture and completely elegant, it's worth every unidentified calorie ten times over.

An unassuming raspberry almond cupcake so perfectly balanced in flavor, light on texture and completely elegant, it’s worth every unidentified calorie ten times over.

Encore Baking Company's Francie Valenta and I taking a moment to pose for the camera.

Encore Baking Company’s Francie Valenta and I taking a moment to pose for the camera.

Do you live in St. Louis, have you visited Maplewood yet? Are you needing a break? Then consider St. Louis, and of course stopping by Maplewood! I can without a doubt say it was an insanely great day with so many businesses I can’t wait to visit again in the future. Not to mention the evening life is just as fun too with a trip to Schlafly Brewery, bowling and adult pinball arcades. Stay tuned to Maplewood‘s event listings as I hear their Christmas walk is definitely worth attending. Or simply stop by any day to experience the fun I had, and then some.

To full plates and eating your tarte out.

Written by Tarte Chic

Author Kat Nielsen (formerly Kat Wojtylak) is a creative type with an immense love for food. She maintains a day job handling marketing and brand support to various companies while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences.

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